Different Types of Wheat Flour in Baking



Study different types of wheat flour in the baking industry. Explain how many different types of wheat flour are available and what product can be made from each type.



Wheat Flour: Flour that is used bakeries is usually obtained by the milling wheat. Flour is a critical ingredient in the production of white bread. Wheat can be differentiated on the basis of their color and hardness of their kernel. Further wheat vary in their properties depending on the place they are grown and their varieties used. Basically the wheat can be classified as - hard or soft. The hard wheat are basically the one with hard spring, hard durum and hard winter and have high protein content. The most desirable types of wheat for bread are the once produced in hard springs and winters. On the other hand, Durum are produced in two varieties namely amber durum and red durum and they have high protein and gluten in them. The amber durum are used to make the elementary things like macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, etc. and the red durum are used for the process of milling and used as a feed and have less importance. Furthermore, the quality of wheat can be determined on various factors like the climate of the place, the quality of the soil and the wheat sown etc. Whereas the soft wheat are used for making cookies, cakes etc. and have comparatively low content of protein.
The wheat flour is highly popular due to the high capacity to form gluten when it is mixed with water or any other liquid. Gluten is responsible for providing the dough with high elasticity and to develop an ability of stretching. If the content of protein is high in the wheat flour, then the formation of gluten also increased whenever flour is mixed with the liquid. (Khatkar, 2016).

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Composition of flour: 

The primary component of wheat flour or the ground endosperm is starch and protein. Some of the most important components of wheat flour are given below (Cornell and Hoveling, 1998): 
(a.)    Starch: Major component of wheat flour is starch which comprises of almost 68-76 percent. The bread flour contains starch in the highest quality out of all the components present. Although it has been seen that the starch granules get damage during the process of milling or while storage of wheat in moist conditions. During this condition the starch present in wheat is broken down into sugar by amylase. The sugars are present in the very small amount in flour and, therefore, their probability for proper fermentation of yeast is quite low. Therefore, most of the yeast dough formulas are noticed to have some sugar extent.
(b.)    Protein: A small amount of protein present in wheat flour (6 to 18 percent) acts as a binding agent and holds the starch granules present in endosperm in their places. The glutenin and gliadin also called the gluten-forming proteins. These proteins comprise of 80 percent of the total proteins present in the endosperm of wheat. Other non-gluten-forming proteins present in endosperm are amylase, protease, etc. 
(c.)    Moisture: The content of moisture in wheat present 11-14 present. Higher content of moisture makes the flour exposed fungus, mold growth, higher enzyme activity etc. Due to this reason, flour is always stored in cool and dry place. 
(d.)    Carbohydrates: Other than starch, about 2-3 percent of gums are also present. Although these gums and especially pentosans are present in low amount, these are very important as they have the capacity to absorb 10 to 15 times their weight in water and increase the water absorption value of flour. Further they help the gluten to interact and improve the structure and strength of wheat.  (Šramkováa, 2009)
(e.)     A small amount of lipids (1-1.5 percent) i.e. the oils and emulsifiers help to develop gluten properly. Although the oil present in wheat oxidizes easily thus their shelf-life is limited.  (Šramkováa, 2009)
(f.)    Ash that comprises of inorganic matter or mineral salts are present in the kernels of the wheat and include various minerals like iron, copper, potassium, sodium and zinc. These provide mineral to the diet and further enhances the yeast fermentation as they provide minerals to the yeast. It comprises of gray color and can also be carried over to the flour, therefore the wheat has to be milled properly to reduce the content of ash. Ash is primarily concentrated in the layer of bran and it can simply be measured in the flour by burning the samples of flour at very high temperatures of around 538°C and then by weighing the remains.
(g.)    Finally, one of the crucial component i.e. Carotenoid pigments is present in flour but very small quantity i.e. 1-4 ppm. They are responsible for giving the off-white, creamy color to the flour. These pigments or the carotenoid pigments present in wheat flour belong to the same family of pigment responsible for the color of carrots.  


A detailed list of the different types of wheat flour present in the baking industry is as follows:

a.    All-Purpose Flour

The all-purpose flour can be used for almost all the purposes and is called as the most widely used wheat flour. This types of flour are generally used for baking and cooking. All-purpose flour is prepared by combining the high protein bread flour along with the low-quality cake flour.  The high-quality bread flour has the high quantity of protein and high content of gluten which is a critical ingredient for the proper rising of the baked items. (Types of Flour, n.d.)
While the low-quality cake flour is prepared from the soft wheat variety and hence contains the low level of gluten due to which the items prepared from it are less dense and have the low amount of rising. When both these flours are combined in a proportionate manner, the all-purpose flour is prepared which has exactly the right balance.
The cake flour is milled from soft wheat, which is light and has lower levels of gluten. This results in baked items that are tender and are less dense. The combination of these two flours gives the all-purpose flour a right balance for making baked goods.
The all-purpose wheat flour is present in the market in two varieties namely-bleached and unbleached. The wheat flour gets oxidized and becomes off-whites and earlier the millers used to oxidize intentionally to give white color to the flour. Eventually, this process became impractical due to the time consumed in oxidizing a large amount of wheat flour. Thus, the process of chemical bleaching came into existence which is responsible for hastening the whitening process.
The bleached flour is used more widely than unbleached flour due to the usage of chemicals in bleaching which acts as a preservation agent so as to avoid the contamination of flour. This chemical also help to avoid discoloration of flour and contribute to give consistent results. However, these chemicals effect the strength of gluten that is present in the flour due to which the bread makers prefer unbleached flour. Thus unbleached flour is used for the preparation of dough for baking purpose as these flour are easy to handle and give better results. The all-purpose flour as the name suggests is widely used for
(a.)    preparing several recipes like cakes, bread, and pastries,
(b.)    can be used for coating for items like meat, vegetable, etc.;
(c.)    for frying or sautéing;
(d.)    Thickening agent for sauces, stews, etc.

(b.) Bread Flour

The bread flour is the one with unbleached, have high content of gluten and contain 99.9% hard wheat flour along with malted barley that is added for increasing the yeast activity and makes the flour ideal for the purpose of bread making. The bread flour should have a high content of gluten is a must as it helps the bread to rise efficiently. (Types of Flour, n.d.)When the bread flour is used, the bread with higher loaves are formed that have less crumby texture along with light weight. Thus bread flour is the favorite amongst the bakers of baking industry for preparation of breads. The bread flour is also called the unbleached flour.

(c.) Bromated Flour

When bromine is added to the flour, desirable results are found in the quality of baked items. Bromine helps to ensure consistency to the flour. The advantage of using bromides to flour is that it helps to strengthen the flour and helps to achieve the exact amount of gluten formation for the process for bread making. However, the use of bromated flour is almost banned in the United States as they use ascorbic acid instead of bromine for the purpose of bread making. 

(d.) Cake Flour

The cake flour is high in starch and has very low content of protein and thus have low amount of gluten which makes the flour suitable for preparation of cake and related recipes. The cake flour comprises of a soft wheat variety and is produced from the endosperm of its wheat kernel. When the cake flour is available for preparation of cake, people generally use cornstarch as its substitute. Sometimes all-purpose flour is also used, but the results are not favorable due to the light and airy texture of all-purpose flour. (Types of Flour, n.d.)

(e). Enriched Flour

The enriched flour is produced from grain so as to remove the bran and germs present in it. It is bleached for giving a white appearance and then this flour is reformulated with nutrients like Vitamin D, thiamin, iron, riboflavin, calcium, niacin etc. The nutrients are added because the bran that contains all the nutrients has been removed. The advantage of following these methods is that they help to remove all the oily germs which gives high shelf life the flour. Various commercially milled flours are enriched using these procedure. The Food and Drug Administration has mandated that the packages of these all-purpose flour should enriched as all the nutrient are removed during the milling process.

(f.). Farina

Farina is the flour which is prepared from almost every type of grain, nut etc. but the most important component is wheat. The wheat is first boiled in water and therefore creates a perfect hot breakfast cereal that tastes like a bland or can also be used in other dishes. Farina can be processed by removing bran from the hulled wheat and then grinding these grains into a fine powder. Some of the component remain as it is like endosperm etc. Then flour is enriched with minerals like vitamin B and irons as most of the nutrients are lost in the initial stages. (Types of Flour, n.d.)

(g.). Gluten flour 

Gluten flour is produced primarily from hard wheat, but the wheat has been treated in such a way that starch is removed. This flour contains the high percentage of gluten around 70 percent which is higher than other types of flour. This gluten content is almost double the content present in a normal wheat flour, and the gluten flour consequently has the lower amount of starch in it. Due to these properties, this flour has the high tendency to rise the dough.
Gluten flour is widely used as an additive as other flours have gluten content in them and some are even gluten free and therefore low or almost on rising is seen in this dough. But it the high quantity of gluten is used then the bread toughens. 
Gluten flour is widely used for preparation of dough for pizza, flat bread etc. (Types of Flour | North American Millers' Association, n.d.)

(i.). Graham Flour

Graham flour is widely known for its slight coarse nature than the normal flour. What it developed was Rev. Sylvester Graham who was an advocate of healthy foods. He wanted to develop a flour with the high content of bran, and he always believed that the flour should not be processed highly and always preferred whole-grain flour. (Types of Flour, n.d.)
The Graham flour is usually confused with the standard whole-wheat although both are quite different. The Graham flour has coarsely grounded flakes of bran and for enhancing its shelf life the wheat germs are removed from it. It is widely used for producing graham crackers.

(j). Organic Flour

The organic flour is the one that is milled from the wheat that was grown and was processed by setting up some specific standards. These standards encompass good farming practices like prohibiting the use of pesticides and insecticides etc. The process of crop rotation is used so that the risks of pests could be reduced. When the wheat like these is milled, they are not exposed to other materials or food item during their processing. The wheat package follows some specific rules like proper sanitation, storage, packaging, etc.

(k.). Semolina Flour

Semolina flour is a granular flour which has the yellow appearance and is produced from durum wheat. These flour are used for the preparation of pasta. The durum wheat is the best for the preparation of best quality of pasta. These types of wheat have the high content of protein and gluten, which are the two components necessary for preparation of pasta. 
The Semolina flour can be present as coarsely ground, or twice grounded and has a fine texture. Apart from pasta, this flour semolina flour is also used to prepare gnocchi i.e. an Italian dish, bread and baked items. Bread made from the semolina flour have the crispy crust with chewy interior. (Types of Flour, n.d.)

(l.). Whole-Wheat Flour

A whole wheat flour is prepared by finely grinding of the full wheat kernel. Thus, all the parts of wheat are present in this type of flour including the bran, germ as well as the endosperm. This helps in giving the brown appearance to the flour which is considered as in integral characteristic of this type of flour. The whole-wheat flour is of following types:
Finely powdered, medium and coarse texture. The difference in size of their granule particles impacts the liquid-absorbing rate of the flour. The flour with finely powdered grains absorbs liquid at higher rate than others and this characteristics impacts the preparation of dough as well. This type of finely powdered whole-wheat flour is widely used for the preparation of bread, rolls, cakes, pastries, etc. While the medium powdered, whole-wheat flour makes the crumb a bit coarser but can be used to make these items as well. However, the coarse whole-wheat flour has large bran particles present in them and, therefore, provides the bread to give them natural, nutty as well as rough textures.
The bread made from the whole-wheat flour are milled from the red wheat. While the white whole-wheat flour when mixed with hard white winter wheat get a milder flavor, light color, and a less-coarse texture. When only whole-wheat flour is only used for the purpose of bread making, then the bread are nutritious, but these bread are smaller in size and have denser loaf because of the presence of bran that does not allow the dough to rise fully. When the baking industry tries to create bread loaf of lighter weight and high volume, then they combine whole-wheat with all-purpose wheat. The whole-wheat flour is also called entire wheat flour.


There is a variety of wheat flour that are used in baking industries, and each, and every one of them are crucial for the production of various baked items. These varieties vary regarding their presence and absence of bran, coarse nature, and various another factor. Hence, it can be concluded that whole-wheat flour holds an important position in the baking industry


1.    Khatkar, B. (2016). FUNCTIONALITY OF WHEAT FLOUR COMPONENTS & BAKERY INGREDIENTS. 1st ed. [ebook] HISAR: GURU JAMBHESHWAR UNIVERSITY, p.3. Available at: http://www.ddegjust.ac.in/studymaterial/pgdbst/pgdbst-02.pdf [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].
2.    Cornell, H. and Hoveling, A. (1998). Wheat. Lancaster, Penn.: Technomic, p.48.
3.    Šramkováa, Z. (2009). Chemical composition and nutritional quality of wheat grain. 1st ed. [ebook] Acta Chimica Slovaca, p.126. Available at: http://www.acs.chtf.stuba.sk/papers/acs_0041.pdf [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].
4.    Types of Flour. (n.d.). 1st ed. [ebook] Wheat foods council, p.2. Available at: http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/about-wfc-flour-types-booklet.pdf [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].
5.    Types of Flour | North American Millers' Association. (n.d.). [online] Namamillers.org. Available at: http://www.namamillers.org/education/types-of-flour/ [Accessed 7 Mar. 2016].

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